on croup

croup-300x3001There is this sound I know.  Not soothing like a fountain or calming like Beethoven.  It’s the sound of breaths that won’t come.  Gasping.  It’s what panic would sound like if it rang out.

There is a look that goes with it.  Eyes wide and muscles tight.  Desperation personified.  The plea for help in a little upturned face.

It was three a.m. when he appeared beside the bed.  He brought with him the familiar sound.  Before either of us had fully woken we sprung to action–Jeff taking him outside because the change of temperature supposedly helps.  I, meanwhile, mixed a saline solution and fumbled frustratingly with the nebulizer, having forgotten which tube goes where.

Wrapped in a blanket he tried to stay calm–an expert at this croup thing.  Shallow breaths in and out, the saline a fine mist at his mouth.  It was bad this time–the stridor refusing to subside despite the treatments we know to work.  Despite all the right things.

I waited until I couldn’t and then I called.  An old pro, I stayed calm.  My son is having difficulty breathing, I said.  And then the address and the phone number and do you need treatment instructions?

Three-thirty a.m., they came in with their heavy boots–with their equipment and paperwork.  One quick look and off we went, the back of the ambulance too familiar to me now after all these times.

He’ll grow out of it soon they assure.

Not soon enough.

9 Replies to “on croup”

  1. It is the most horrifying sound. We have one that still gets it and we’ve never taken her in but I always wonder… how do I KNOW when it gets bad enough that I should take her in? This parenting gig – not for the faint of heart.

    1. I have to say that I’m a little disheartened that you have one who still gets it. I’m pretty sure your youngest is the same age as mine and I’d hoped he’d have grown out of it by now. It is terrifying. We live thirty minutes outside of town and so I can’t afford to mess around. I call when a)he doesn’t improve with treatment, b) his chest/neck cave in when he breathes and c) he can’t breathe well enough to speak or cry normally.

  2. Oh, so sad. My daughter was a teen when her breathing got more difficult one night, about 4 am. I waited as long as I could, I was so tired and knew I had to get up early for work. But, finally, I took her to the emergency room, where the quickly intubated her. The nurse came out to tell me, saying “Ma’am, do you understand? She is on life support.” Those shocking words. She remained that way, in intensive care, for 2 days, then slowly weened her off the tube.Can never be too cautious now. Hope you all get the rest you need.

    1. Oh, Susan, I get all tied up in knots just reading that. Do you mind my asking what happened that left her struggling to breathe? In any case, you must have hit your knees right then and there to give thanks that everything turned out alright.

      1. I start to shudder just thinking about that early morning. I’ll never forget those words. My daughter has asthma and we are in Southern California. That year, when there were numerous fires in SoCal, the air quality was especially bad, with ash raining down. We are near Long Beach, so nowhere near any of the burning areas, but she wasn’t able to get the needed oxygen in her lungs. Breathing treatments weren’t helping whatsoever. They told me if we had waited another half hour it could have turned out much worse. My husband was in Iraq at the time and couldn’t be contacted until days later. Praise God for His healing hand. How is Jayce doing?

  3. Wow! I missed this one. Poor J. I hope he is doing better. How scary. Will developed a wheeze about a week and a half ago and it freaked me out as neither of the older ones has ever had one. Ended up that he had bronchitis, so scary!

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